Paul Bearer, one of the greatest wrestling managers of all time, should be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2014 instead of rushing his induction this year.
Just days after passing away (h/t WWE.com), the talk has reportedly began to circulate in WWE’s inner circles about inducting Bearer into the Hall of Fame in 2013 (via F4WOnline, h/t Wrestling Inc.), but that is not the ideal way for the company to handle this situation due to the timing.
There has to be a grieving period for not only the members of the WWE roster that worked with the legend and loved the man, but also Bearer’s family.
The WWE Universe will come out to show their support for Bearer’s eventual induction into the Hall of Fame, and doing it so close to his death will result in a somber tone that will diminish the rest of the 2013 class.
That's not fair to the 2013 inductees or to Bearer.
If the WWE waits a year and allows the family to be a part of the event after coming to terms with Bearer’s death, the event will feel like a celebration of the legend’s life and not a memorial service for a star.
Bearer undoubtedly deserves to be in the Hall of Fame for the character he portrayed over his career, but inducting him within weeks of his untimely death will feel contrived and forced.
The WWE doesn’t want any negative press from what could be construed as exploitation—trying to benefit from the publicity around Bearer’s death—and a legend of his magnitude deserves better than being embroiled in controversy.
Add in the fact that Bearer would be buried in a Hall of Fame class that already includes all-time greats like Bruno Sammartino, Mick Foley and Trish Stratus, and it would make more sense for the WWE to wait until the night before WrestleMania 30 to induct Bearer.
That would also give the company plenty of time to work out the details of the ceremony with the family and Bearer’s most likely inductors, The Undertaker and Kane.
Bearer was a wrestling fan first and foremost, as discussed in an interview with Ring Rust Radio, so making him one of the main focal points of the Hall of Fame ceremony at WrestleMania 30 would be the ultimate way for the WWE to pay homage to the manager.
Just days before his death, Bearer was asked about his eventual induction into the WWE Hall of Fame (h/t Chris Yandek):
"I know that I will [be in the WWE Hall of Fame]. So that’s all I need to know. Whether it’s next year or whether it’s five years from now, I know the time’s coming."
Most wrestling fans agree that Bearer deserves the honor of being inducted into the Hall of Fame, but inducting a person posthumously can be a touchy topic with a grieving family and a community as close-knit as professional wrestling's, especially just days after the legend’s death.
Waiting a year would allow the sadness to subside and would give the WWE adequate time to feature Bearer as one of the main Hall of Fame inductees for 2014.